Facebook says it uploaded email contacts of up to 1.5 million users

Facebook has been hit by a number of privacy-related issues recently. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 April 2019
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Facebook says it uploaded email contacts of up to 1.5 million users

  • In March, Facebook had stopped offering email password verification as an option for people who signed up for the first time
  • There were cases in which email contacts of people were uploaded to Facebook when they created their account

APRIL: Facebook Inc. said on Wednesday it may have “unintentionally uploaded” email contacts of 1.5 million new users since May 2016, in what seems to be the latest privacy-related issue faced by the social media company.
In March, Facebook had stopped offering email password verification as an option for people who signed up for the first time, the company said. There were cases in which email contacts of people were uploaded to Facebook when they created their account, the company said.
“We estimate that up to 1.5 million people’s email contacts may have been uploaded. These contacts were not shared with anyone and we are deleting them,” Facebook told Reuters, adding that users whose contacts were imported will be notified.
The underlying glitch has been fixed, according to the company statement.
Business Insider had earlier reported that the social media company harvested email contacts of the users without their knowledge or consent when they opened their accounts.
When an email password was entered, a message popped up saying it was “importing” contacts without asking for permission first, the report said.
Facebook has been hit by a number of privacy-related issues recently, including a glitch that exposed passwords of millions of users stored in readable format within its internal systems to its employees.
Last year, the company came under fire following revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm, obtained personal data of millions of people’s Facebook profiles without their consent.
The company has also been facing criticism from lawmakers across the world for what has been seen by some as tricking people into giving personal data to Facebook and for the presence of hate speech and data portability on the platform.
Separately, Facebook was asked to ensure its social media platform is not abused for political purposes or to spread misinformation during elections.


Zuckerberg: US govt inaction allowed fake news to spread

Updated 43 min 49 sec ago
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Zuckerberg: US govt inaction allowed fake news to spread

  • The CEO also called on governments to further regulate private data, political advertising and step up efforts to prevent state actors from interfering in US elections
  • Zuckerberg also said the leading social network is struggling to find ways to deal with “deepfake” videos

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday that a lack of action by US authorities on fake political content on the platform after the 2016 US election helped pave the way for a subsequent avalanche of online disinformation.
The CEO — who has himself been widely criticized for a lackluster response to fake news — also called on governments to further regulate private data, political advertising and step up efforts to prevent state actors from interfering in US elections.
“As a private company we don’t have the tools to make the Russian government stop... our government is the one that has the tools to apply pressure to Russia,” he said during an on-stage interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado.
“After 2016 when the government didn’t take any kind of counter action, the signal that was sent to the world was that ‘ok we’re open for business’, countries can try to do this stuff... fundamentally there isn’t going to be a major recourse from the American government.”
Zuckerberg also said the leading social network is struggling to find ways to deal with “deepfake” videos which have the potential to deceive and manipulate users on a massive scale.
The comments come amid growing concern over deepfakes — which are altered by using artificial intelligence to appear genuine — being used to manipulate elections or potentially spark unrest.
Earlier this month, Facebook’s Instagram network decided not to take down a fake video of Zuckerberg himself, saying the CEO would not get special treatment.
Online platforms have been walking a fine line, working to root out misinformation and manipulation efforts while keeping open to free speech.
Zuckerberg said this is a constant challenge, repeating his position that Facebook should not be an arbiter of truth on the Internet.
“I do not think we want to go so far toward saying that a private company prevents you from saying something that it thinks is factually incorrect to another person,” he said.